Yesterday, I was helping at a fundraiser for an organization that enables developmentally disabled adults to live as independently as possible in a small community setting; my son is part of this community. I was thinking about how excited they all were to participate in this 3-mile walk and to spend the time together. Some of the residents are physically disabled, as well, and many are on the autism spectrum. I happen to know that a number of them are also struggling with depression, including my son. None of them have an easy life, as most of us with "normal" intelligence would see it, yet they are so grateful for ANY kindness or attention they receive, you don't have to do much to earn their friendship. It makes me wonder how they manage as well as they do. Some of them have little to be joyful about in their lives, but they're not bitter. For instance, it's difficult for many of them to get any kind of job and now in this recession, quite a few people are not working at all or working very few hours, which limits even further the things they have the freedom to do.
I've not known of any resident, past or present, who has committed suicide, which got me to wonder about a few things. I can get so bogged down in negativity and self-hate that makes me want to pull away from other people. Yet, these disabled adults somehow know that it's important for them to depend on each other and help each other out, even when they're depressed. They never seem to lose hope. How do they do that? I wonder if it has something to do with the simplicity of their hearts, they wear them on their sleeves. I, on the other hand, will not so easily admit if I need something from someone, or even if I really admire something about someone, trying to keep that distance. I don't always have the simplicity in my heart of knowing that tomorrow could be a better day or that I won't feel bad every single day of my life. I can get too wrapped up in my own misery to see that we all need connection to keep going, whether it's friends, family or even others on this web site.
So, yesterday I realized a few things about life and survival from people who don't even know they're teaching me!
Published On: September 21, 2009